Almost Venice

So I’m sitting in the lobby of my hostel in Venice, about to start writing this, when I hear a knock on the window. Some slimy guy is out there waving at me. Seriously, has this technique ever worked for anyone ever? Who thinks that’s a good idea? Is it one big cultural joke that the rest of us are taking too seriously? Where can I purchase a burka?

I flipped him off and ignored him til he left.

I have loved almost everything about Italy… But I am so glad that after tomorrow, I’ll be getting away from all these rude pathetic losers. And it is Sunday, sir! This is the lord’s day! We are in Italy. The pope is watching. Is nothing sacred?

I went to mass this morning at the duomo in Florence. I was really worried about being late, and I actually only made it about 5 minutes early. Much to my horror, a service was definitely under way. I found a space in the back and sat there for a few minutes before I figured out this was actually nearly the end of the mass, meaning it had lasted an hour and forty minutes.

There were quite a few people taking photos during the service, which I think is just horrifyingly disrespectful. This is a serious, spiritual act. If you want to observe it, clearly you’re welcome to. But it’s not a show or a spectacle. I don’t know. It’s really just all about respect.

I moved up to a seat nearer the altar when the church began to clear out. I’d be closer to god, and have fewer tourists with their cameras in my line of sight. Then, I was told that I had to leave. Apparently, the following mass was being held not at the main altar but in an alcove to the right. It was still a very lovely, interesting experience. I was a little disappointed that I now wasn’t in a position to admire the beautiful cupola during the service and it wasn’t nearly as elaborate of a ceremony (no choir, only one priest…) but at least there weren’t any disrespectful photo-takers. I probably would have been too angry with the other people to have really enjoyed mass on the high alter, so perhaps it was a blessing.

After mass, the line to climb the 414 stairs to the top of the bell tower was pretty short. Since I’d never gotten a chance to climb to the top of the cupola (fun fact: “duomo” is NOT the Italian word for dome) I decided I’d go for the next best thing.

Although it’s a few meters shorter, I think the bell tower might actually have been the better option in the end because you get an amazing view of the duomo from it. The most challenging part of climbing up the bell tower is negotiating past all the people climbing back down. Unlike the Vatican cupola, there was no separate staircase for the descent. It was incredibly narrow. I feel like there has to have been a better way to organize it, but there were no very wide people so it all worked out.

After this it was time to head to Venice. I hopped on a train in the mid afternoon. The countryside was drastically different than what I’d been seeing in Italy until now. It’s really flat around here. At the Venice train station I reserved my spot on an overnight train from Venice to Vienna tomorrow. It should be interesting.

Like in Amsterdam, I’m staying one station away from the city center. It’s really convenient, though, because my one minute walk to the train station and with trains leaving every few minutes is probably going to get me to the center faster than I could in Florence.

My hostel here is okay. Not the best, not the worst, but at least the Internet seems to work. I did some laundry at a self service laundromat down the street. There was a nice man who helped me get the right soap and everything. I threw my shoes in as well, along with my fancy arch-support inserts. They haven’t been smelling nice lately.

Since I didn’t have shoes, I got to people-watch in the laundromat for the next hour. Only men came in to do laundry the entire time. Now, this is one reason I feel like the way Italian men treat women might be one big joke. Whenever you’re in a situation where you actually are forced to interact, or at least you can’t get away from each other, they leave you alone. In the laundromat, but also in hostels, on trains, in museums. I can’t figure it out. You would think they’d love a captive audience.

I read some more of The Mill on the Floss while I waited. I glanced up at the washing machines in front of me, and to my surprise I see one of my insoles floating around in the new load of laundry in the washing machine I’d vacated. It still had almost 30 minutes to go.

The men to whom the laundry belonged had left. They men who were waiting joined me in a little laugh about it. Really, it was fine. It just meant I spent an extra hour waiting for it to get washed and dried. I just threw it in with the same clothes it’d been washed with.

There was a Spanish man at the laundromat. It was really strange to see Italians and Spanish struggle with the language barrier since they sound so similar to me. I really wish I’d been allowed to keep on with Spanish in high school. I enjoyed it and I would love to be able to speak any other language.

I was starving by the time I finally left. I had some pasta at a nearby restaurant. I think I’m going to stop ordering pasta here. It must just be that pasta on my budget it never good. There was an open kitchen, and “Matteo the pizzaman” somehow got a waitress to deliver a note to my table telling me I’m pretty and asking me to go get a drink with him. I left a note saying thanks, but I have a boyfriend. Will this madness never end?

My last stop for today was the train station again. The receptionist at the hotel couldn’t understand my questions about my eurail pass. Most Italian trains require reservations even after you have the pass, do I just wanted to know if I had to reserve a seat for the short ride into the city and back. It cost less than €2 for a whole new ticket.

I spoke to the same man at the station as earlier. He told me I don’t need reservations, I can come and go as I please. This is so convenient. Trains leave up to every 2 minutes, and run til half 12.

I decided not to go into the city tonight. As convenient as it is, I’d rather get to bed so i can wake up super early tomorrow and have more time while things are open. I passed a poster for a Manet exhibit. I saw a different Manet show at the Royal Academy in London with Marcos a few months ago. I kinda want to see this one to compare, and also because (unlike the Royal Academy show) this includes the painting

It just occurred to me that Klimt’s The Kiss is either in Venice or Vienna, I can’t remember which. I need to find out. I guess either way I’ll be seeing that sometime in the next few days… And that’s super exciting.


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